- Joel Embiid said he wanted to win MVP this season, so it makes sense that he'd use a tactic from last year's winner to help boost his case.
For six minutes Friday night, Joel Embiid resembled the MVP.
He was living at the free-throw line like he was James Harden.
On a night when Kemba Walker gave us a fourth-quarter performance for the ages to bring the Hornets back from a 21-point deficit, Embiid got the last laugh as the 76ers prevailed 133-132 in overtime.
The Process had his best game of the young season, posting his eighth 30-point-10-rebound effort in his team’s first 13 games. He scored a season-high 42 points, with 19 of them coming from the free-throw line.
In the fourth, Walker went nuclear and led a charge with Embiid on the bench. He had 19 points in the quarter after having just eight in the first three. He gave the Hornets a late 119-117 lead with a drive at Embiid with fewer than 30 seconds remaining in the period.
Despite the heroics of the two-time All-Star in teal, the night belonged to the Sixers’ All-Star. Embiid kept the home team undefeated in Philadelphia (7-0), in large part because of his acumen at drawing fouls and his superb free-throw shooting (19-for-22 on the night, 80.9% on the season entering Friday).
During the second half of the fourth quarter, Embiid went 11-for-12 from the line while the Sixers were unable to get a field goal for a bulk of that stretch. The lone bucket from Philadelphia during the last seven minutes and 20 seconds of the fourth was an Embiid triple that would turn the staunchest Sam Hinkie hater into the most enthusiastic supporter of his trash-talking crown jewel.
Of Philadelphia’s final 15 points in the fourth, 14 came from Embiid.
A pair of free throws from Embiid after getting fouled immediately after an inbounds was the final points before overtime. Those two fouls shots also capped off a 16-point quarter from the third-year sensation from Cameroon by way of Kansas.
He finished the night with 42 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and four blocks. Embiid also scored a career-high 16 points in clutch time.
He scored the Sixers’ 133rd point from the line with six seconds left in overtime to make sure a late three-pointer from the Hornets didn’t change the outcome.
It felt unfair at times. No matter what Cody Zeller did, he sent Embiid to the line. His sixth foul was the one that sent Embiid to the charity stripe to tie the game near the end of regulation.
And when it came time to hit a shot, Embiid had no trouble leaving one in Kemba’s eye in the final minute of regulation.
Embiid said he wanted to be the MVP this season. Makes sense that he would take some pointers from the last guy who won it.